For the full year of 2018, the average monthly jobs gain was 223,000.
The U-6 metric, a figure used to measure unemployment that takes into account discouraged workers and those holding part-time positions for economic reasons did rise to 8.1 percent from 7.6 percent, on track with January 2018.
The economy, however, added 70,000 fewer jobs than previously reported in November and December. Still, hiring has accelerated since last summer, a development that has surprised economists because hiring typically slows when unemployment is so low. Average hourly earnings in the leisure and hospitality sector have risen almost 4% over the past year, compared to 3.2% for the workforce as a whole. Mortgage rates have fallen back after almost touching 5 percent a year ago, but the number of Americans who signed contracts to buy homes still declined in December.
However, the figures include federal government employees who were not working or being paid for most of last month. The ability of many of them to do so is itself a sign of the job market's strength, Swonk said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast payrolls increasing by only 165,000 jobs in January.
Job growth increased broadly in January. The federal government itself also spent less. But some say that even businesses that lost income from the shutdown likely held onto their staffs, knowing that the shutdown would only be temporary. Tourists cut back on visits to national parks, for example, thereby hurting nearby restaurants and hotels. Glassdoor saw a 10 percent bump in federal workers looking for jobs on its website two weeks after the government shutdown started - when they missed their first paychecks.
Immediately following the release of the jobs report, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 51 points. But consumer confidence fell in January for a third straight month. That lowered the annual increase in wages to 3.2 percent from 3.3 percent in December, giving the employment report a Goldilocks feel.
Growth of 100,000 jobs per month is required in the U.S. to keep pace with growth in the working-age population.